To the Moon! Part III: Moon Mining

In this blog’s long and storied history, I’ve been a consistent advocate of space exploration, with a particular interest in lunar colonization.  An enduring frustration of this blog is that the United States has satiated its thirst for exploration with the numbing effects of consumer technologies.  Yes, we can FaceTime one another from halfway around the globe and can set our thermostats remotely so the house is cooled down before we arrive—all wonderful conveniences—but is that truly the apex of human endeavor?  Is being comfortable really the point of it all?

There was a time when we dreamed of exploring the stars, or at least of visiting our nearest celestial neighbors.  But that drive for adventure dissipated—or, perhaps, exploded—sometime in the 1980s.  The Age of The Virus further highlights our society’s obsession with safety, an obsession anathema to the derring-do necessary to explore the stars.

To paraphrase Bill Whittle, we’ll know we’re serious about space exploration when our graveyards are filled with astronauts.

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TBT: Why the Hate for Space Force?

An unintended theme of the blog this week has been space, with two posts on our galaxy and our place in it (read “Galaxy Quest” and “Galaxy Quest II“).  One of the first posts I wrote on the blog urged the United States to expand into space.

So I was thrilled, understandably, when President Trump announced the creation of Space Force.  What a brilliant idea—and one that the ten-year old boy in me celebrated right away.  Diligent readers will know that I voted for Newt Gingrich in the 2012 South Carolina Republican Party, and donated $100 to his campaign after he promised to put a colony on the moonby the end of my second term.”

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Lazy Sunday XII: Space

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Long-time readers will know that I have a love of and fascination with space.  One of the first calls I ever made to a talk-radio show was back in 2009 to the now-defunct Keven Cohen Show.  The occasion was the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing, and the question was, in the midst of the Great Recession, should the government invest in space exploration and going to the moon (and beyond)?  In my clumsy call, I argued that, yes, it should.

As I noted earlier this week, I lack a strong technical foundation in these matters.  I assume that any practice problems of exploration, colonization, and exploitation of space are, ultimately, technical in nature, and will eventually get figured out.  My interest is more philosophical and political in nature:  what are the possibilities of space?  What benefits could expansion into space offer?

But, really, I’m just a childlike nerd who wants to walk on the moon.  If I’m being totally honest, that’s my primary motivation:  I want to visit the moon.  I also relish the idea of humans partaking in bold space adventures.  Is it any wonder one of my favorite movies of all time is Guardians of the Galaxy?

And I’m not alone.  According to (yet another) Rasmussen poll, 43% of American voters would take a trip to the moon and back given the chance.  That total includes 56% of men, but just 31% of women, so I suppose all those single moms posting on Facebook about loving their children “to the moon and back” is a sentimental expression, not a concrete pledge.

Here’s hoping that the eggheads at NASA and in the private sector take note of all the Americans eager to engage in some lunar tourism.  Market forces are far more likely to incentivize galactic expansion than government programs, so maybe offering affordable round-trip flights to the moon could one day turn a profit.  Who knows?

What I do know is that this Sunday I’m happy to share my various posts on space.  I hope you “love them to the moon and back”:

  • America Should Expand into Space” – this post was the topic of Thursday’s “TBT” feature.  As such, I’ll refrain from lengthy pontificating about it.  Essentially, it looks at the geopolitical reasons for expansion into space.  Short version:  don’t let the Chinese build a death laser on the moon!
  • Breaking: President Trump Creates Space Force” & “Why the Hate for Space Force?” – back in June 2019, President Trump announced the creation of “Space Force” as a separate branch of the armed services.  It’s a bold, visionary idea—and a damn good one.  As “America Should Expand into Space” suggests, space is the next frontier, not just for settlement, but for war.

    I also lament in the latter of these twin pieces that Americans no longer look boldly to the future in space as a new frontier, but instead remain firmly earthbound with various toys and gadgets.

  • To the Moon!” – this brief essay explores the metaphysical and cultural benefits of lunar colonization.  In it, I summarize the ideas of an oddball writer, James D. Heiser.  Heiser is a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Diocese of North America and a founding member of the Mars Society.

    He wrote a book,  Civilization and the New Frontier:  Reflections on Virtue and the Settlement of a New World, about the colonization of Mars.  In Civilization and the New Frontier, Heiser argues that the strenuous nature of such an endeavor would require and cultivate virtue, thereby reinvigorating our civilization.

    It’s an intriguing idea, and one that rings true:  anything worth doing is (usually) difficult.  The sacrifice that such a mission would require is self-evident, and would require men and women of great virtue and courage to achieve.

  • To the Moon!, Part II: Back to the Moon” – this post discussed NASA’s acceleration of its timetable for another manned mission to the moon.  The goal is to return by 2024, rather than 2028.  It would be the first manned mission to the moon since 1972—a sobering, depressing duration.  When I was a kid, we were told we’d see a manned mission to Mars by the year 2000.  So much for that.

As the preamble to this list demonstrated, there is hunger for holidays on the moon.  I, too, want to ride the mighty moon worm!  Sure, there are huge technical problems to overcome—but those can be overcome.  Let’s worry less about queer studies outreach Islamic countries.  Our destiny is among the stars!

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

To the Moon!, Part II: Back to the Moon

I’ve long been an advocate for space exploration.  I don’t possess any deep technical knowledge of aviation or aeronautics; I just think the idea of colonizing the moon is cool, and that space holds forth endless opportunities.

In the context of our own nation’s history, space exploration and colonization take on an additional significance:  space is a new frontier for liberty.  People cross the Atlantic to settle the New World, in part because of the promise of being left alone to pursue their own destinies.  What is space but a boundless, inky ocean to be crossed?  What are new worlds but potential bastions of hardscrabble liberty?

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about space exploration or lunar colonization, but today’s Scott Rasmussen Number of the Day brought the topic back to my attention.  The occasion is NASA’s announcement that it plans to put humans back on the moon by 2024—four years earlier than previously scheduled.

The rationale behind the accelerated schedule is political:  NASA officials wager that they have a better chance of accomplishing the mission prior to a change in executive administrations.  The Trump Administration has vocally supported revitalizing NASA’s role in space exploration, and Space Policy Directive 1 ordered the return by 2028 following an executive order.

A manned mission to the moon would be the first one since Apollo 17 in 1972.  If NASA succeeds in its mission, the proposed 2024 landing would be the first time a human has set foot on the lunar surface in fifty-two years—a short lifetime.

Rasmussen’s poll found that 37% of voters believe NASA will get humans back to the moon before private companies.  36% believe it will be the other way around.  59% of Americans think both NASA and private companies should be tackling space exploration—a rather prudent opinion, I would argue, though I’d like to see the private sector continue to expand in this area.

Another interesting number from the polling:  60% of men are okay with the additional $1.6 billion in funding this year that would get the project moving, while only 41% of women approve.  That’s an interesting gender gap, but not a surprising one:  women are far more likely to prefer that cash be allocated to more terrestrial matters, like bolstering social programs.  I also suspect there’s something of the boyish wonder at play here, as men are more likely to relish adventure and risk-taking.

Regardless, the prospect of returning to the moon inside of five years is exciting.  Even with pressing concerns here on Earth, we should continue to look outward to our Solar System.  What opportunities might it contain?  Like funding the border wall, $1.6 billion is a drop in the bucket of our federal budget.

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